White House Goes to the Web for State of the Union Policy Push

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – While President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday night, he and White House officials will be available online all week to talk about their current initiatives.

Major networks will be carrying Tuesday night’s speech, but it will also be available online at Following the speech, those who tweet can find four different White House officials on Twitter under the handle @whitehouse and by using the hashtag #sotu. Among those answering questions Tuesday night will be Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.

On Wednesday night, outgoing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will also answer questions on Twitter. He can be reached @PressSec before his daily briefing that day, and participants are asked to use the hashtag #1Q. Gibbs will later post video responses to selected questions.

President Obama will do a live YouTube interview on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern, where users can submit questions at

Also on Thursday, there will be four discussion panels focused on the economy, foreign policy, education, and health care, which will be made available online for question submission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Romney Wins New Hampshire Republican Party Straw Poll

Photo Credit - TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(CONCORD, N.H.) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took first place -- or 35 percent of the valid ballots cast -- in a presidential "straw poll" of New Hampshire Republican State Committee members sponsored by ABC News and WMUR and sanctioned by the state Republican Party.

Coming in a distant second was Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, with 11 percent, followed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who took 8 percent of the vote. In fourth place was ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with 7 percent.

“This is by no means a scientific sample, but it was a good early canvass of the sentiments of the state's most active Republican voters,” said ABC News political director Amy Walter.

The "straw poll" was open to the 426 registered members of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. Sixty-five percent participated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ron Paul for President in 2012? Texas Republican Mulls Another Run

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Is Republican Ron Paul eying another presidential run?

The Texas congressman told National Journal this week that he would have more interest in a run at the White House in 2012 than he would the soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat of retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Paul amassed a loyal following – particularly on the Internet – during his 2008 campaign for the presidency. He pulled out of the running in June of that year.

The Texas Republican has said that he’s waiting to see whether the U.S. dollar strengthens before making any decisions on another presidential bid.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nine State AGs File Legal Brief Supporting Health Care Law

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A coalition of nine state attorneys general on Friday filed an amicus brief supporting the constitutionality of the new health care law. The announcement comes against the backdrop of multiple court challenges facing the new law, the chief one being the lawsuit filed in Florida on behalf of 27 states.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said the legal filing is more than just a symbolic or political gesture.

“This is a legal statement. I think that the arguments we make are very strong arguments,” Miller said in a conference call. “I think that the courts do look to amicus briefs and give them consideration for instance at the Supreme Court of the United States, we do know from members that they do consider our arguments very carefully.”

The coalition includes attorney generals from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Vermont.

“We will be working to defend the Constitution and the administration’s position ... [in cases] that go on to the court of appeals,” Miller said. “It’s clearly within the federal government’s power to regulate health care and to regulate it in the specific way that’s been done in this bill.”

The House and Senate Democratic leadership filed a separate amicus brief Friday in support of the constitutionality of the health care law.

“By filing this brief, Democratic leaders are taking a strong stand against any and all efforts to repeal patients’ rights and put insurance companies back in charge of Americans’ health choices,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama: 'We Can Out-Compete Any Other Nation'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama keeps his focus on exports and the economy, saying one of the most important things America can do to save and create jobs is to open up more markets to U.S. goods.

The president supports this idea with mention of the past week's meetings with China's President Hu Jintao.

"We're now exporting more than $100 billion a year to China in goods and services.  And as a result of deals we completed this week, we'll be increasing U.S. exports to China by more than $45 billion, and China's investments in America by several billion dollars," he said.  "Most important, these deals will support some 235,000 American jobs.

Obama also highlighted his visit to the GE plant in Schenectady, N.Y. Friday.  During this trip the president announced that CEO, Jeff Immelt would head up the Administration's new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  The purpose of the council will be to "help us find ways to grow our economy by investing in our businesses here at home," the president said in his address.

Finally, President Obama encourages Americans not to fear competing in today's global economy.

"I know we can out-compete any other nation on Earth.  We just have to make sure we're doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses and harness the dynamism of America's economy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sen. Barrasso: Job Not Done until Obamacare Is Repealed, Replaced

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CASPER, Wyo.) -- In this week's Republican address, Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., focused on the repeal of the Obama Administration's health care law, giving examples of money he says has been wasted "trying to persuade [Americans] to support this law" and pointing out Obamacare's shortcomings.

"We've already heard how the new law forces many employers to choose between keeping workers and paying for insurance coverage," Barrasso said in his address.  "As I travel across the country, I continue to hear from Americans who want Washington to take its hands off of their health care."

Barrasso emphasized -- perhaps most of all -- that Washington should not "come between" Americans and their doctors. 

The Wyoming senator, who is also a doctor, reiterated the Republican party's mission to repeal Obama's health care law and replace it with reforms that would restore Americans' "freedom over their own health care decisions."

"Republicans will fight to repeal this job-destroying law and replace it with patient centered reforms.  Reforms like making it legal for Americans to buy health insurance from companies in other states … Ending junk lawsuits that drive up the cost of everyone's care."

"Our job won't be done until we repeal and replace this bad law," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bachmann to Deliver Response to SOTU Via Tea Party Express

Photo Courtesy - Bachmann dot House dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- Budget Chairman Paul Ryan won’t be the only Republican offering a response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address next Tuesday.  Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann is slated to deliver an alternative response to the president’s speech through the Tea Party Express website.

In a fundraising e-mail sent to supporters Friday, the Tea Party Express announced the Minnesota congresswoman “has confirmed with us that she will broadcast her response to Barack Obama’s State of the Union address this Tuesday.  You’ll be able to watch her rebut Obama via her address which will be broadcast on our website:”

Bachmann is the founder and chair of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress, which she started this past July.  The Tea Party Express heralded Bachmann as a “hero” during the 2010 election.

A source close to Bachmann first hinted at her presidential ambitions to ABC News earlier this month and Bachmann is slated to take the tea party message to Iowa in a speech she’s set to a deliver Friday night at a reception in Des Moines sponsored by Iowans for Tax Relief.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama SOTU Address May Mirror Clinton's of 16 Years Ago

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State of the Union address former President Bill Clinton delivered 16 years ago might sound just as relevant today considering the political landscape awaiting President Obama when he arrives for his address Tuesday night.

Both speeches find a humbled Democratic president being introduced by a brand new Republican Speaker after a stunning election.

In 1995, Newt Gingrich intoned the traditional welcome, “I have the high privilege and distinct honor of introducing the President of the United States.”  And the President could not help but acknowledge the upheaval.

“Let me begin by congratulating all of you here in the 104th Congress, and congratulating you, Mr. Speaker,” President Clinton began. “If we agree on nothing else tonight, we must agree that the American people certainly voted for change in 1992 and in 1994." Laughter rippled across the chamber.

The Democratic President knew his agenda -- health care reform, economic growth, cutting the deficit -- all depended on finding a way to work with the newly empowered opposition.

“My fellow Americans, without regard to party, let us rise to the occasion,” President Clinton urged. “Let us put aside partisanship and pettiness and pride. As we embark on this course, let us put our country first, remembering that regardless of party label we are all Americans. And let the final test of everything we do be a simple one: Is it good for the American people?”

If President Barack Obama were to speak those very words on Tuesday evening, many might say they would not sound out of date at all.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama May Reconsider Military Tribunals for Guantanamo Detainees

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Exactly two years ago from Saturday, President Obama took the bold step of signing an executive order calling for the shutdown of the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention center "as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from now."

It was one of the first orders of business, and a hugely symbolic step, taken up by the newly-elected president, who argued that such a move would make Americans safer. But after heated debates on where the prisoners should be tried, resistance from U.S. allies on repatriation of detainees, and a bipartisan fight against the administration's stance, a new reality is taking shape.

The New York Times first reported Wednesday that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to soon lift an order blocking the use of military tribunals to prosecute detainees, a marked departure from the Obama administration's rhetoric thus far. But it's also a stark admittance by the administration that the task is much more complicated than officials predicted and they will have to rely on tools that they were hoping to avoid to move forward, experts say.

One of the main impediments against the Obama administration's decision is fierce, bipartisan resistance from Congress.

The $725 billion National Defense Authorization Act that Obama signed on Jan. 7, explicitly prohibits the use of Defense Department funds to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to the United States or other countries. It also bars Pentagon funds from being used to build facilities in the U. S. to house detainees, as the president originally suggested.

The move essentially barred the administration from trying detainees in civilian courts. The president objected to the provision in the bill before signing it, calling it "a dangerous and unprecedented challenge to critical executive branch authority" but also said his team would work with Congress to "seek repeal of these restrictions."

Attorney General Eric Holder suggested Thursday that federal trials for the five detainees accused of involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks, including self-proclaimed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, could still continue despite Congress' restrictions, adding that nothing is off the table as of yet. Holder's efforts to move the five alleged terrorists to a federal court in New York City have come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans, who are unwilling to support such a move.

Proponents of closing the Guantanamo detainee center say they are extremely disappointed by recent reports indicating that military tribunals will resume.

There are about 170 prisoners remaining at the detainee center in Guantanamo Bay, 30 of which were due to face trial in criminal courts or before military commissions. Since 2002, 598 prisoners have been transferred to other countries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rudy Giuliani 'Absolutely Open' to 2012 Presidential Bid

File photo. Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appears to be open to another presidential run despite his defeat in 2008, he said in an interview on Thursday night.

“I will take a look at 2012,” Giuliani told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow. “It’s really a question of, can I play a useful role? Would I have a chance of getting the nomination?”

Giuliani dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination after coming in third behind Mitt Romney and John McCain in the Jan. 2008 Florida primary. Giuliani had largely staked his presidential hopes on winning that state’s contest, but instead quit the race and threw his support behind the eventual nominee, McCain.

Earlier this month, Giuliani denied a report in the New York Post that said the former mayor had been busy “rounding up his top political advisers for a possible 2012 presidential run.”

Even so, Giuliani emphasized in CNBC interview that the door was “absolutely” open to a presidential bid.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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